Nueces County Judge Barbra Canales announced on Wednesday afternoon that Nueces County residents will be under a “stay-at-home” order to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Effective 11:59 p.m. on March 26, and continuing until April 8, “All individuals currently living within Nueces County are ordered to shelter at their place of residence,” the order states.
Nueces County currently has 11 positive cases of the novel coronavirus, and Canales said the order is an effort to limit exposure. One of those cases is a resident who is not from Nueces County, but was in the area when he tested positive for the virus.
Canales said the order is not a travel restriction or lockdown, and residents are able to leave their homes for “essential activities.”
Those activities include gathering medical supplies or medicine, grocery shopping, shopping for other household necessities and exercising outdoors, while also practicing social distancing.
“All public or private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or living unit are prohibited, except as otherwise provided herein,” the order states. “Nothing in this Order prohibits the gathering of members of a household or living unit.”
The order states all businesses except those defined as “essential businesses” are required to cease all activities at facilities within the county limits.
However, the order does allow businesses to continue operations by having employees work from home.
Essential businesses include healthcare, first responders, government functions, essential retail, utility workers, news media and maintenance workers.
The essential businesses must also adhere to social distancing guidelines, Canales said.
Canales said it is important for county residents to adhere to the order because the order guidelines are “not recommendations, but law.” By that Canales said they are not looking "punitive," but will enforce the order through fines or other means if people flagrantly violate it.
“We’re trying to control the spread of the virus,” Canales said. “ That’s why we’re taking the precautionary measures that we are.”
Kleberg County has not gone as far as issuing a shelter in place order for residents, but an emergency meeting has been called for Thursday at noon for Kleberg County commissioners. The main item on the agenda is to "discuss and act on appointing essential personnel for Kleberg County."
As of Wednesday afternoon, there have still been no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Kleberg County, though testing is ongoing at Dick Kleberg Park's Recreation Hall daily, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The site is accessible by appointment only, and individuals must be referred by a physician or medical professional.